12.03.2020 change 12.03.2020

Scientists Developing Faster and Cheaper Method for Bacterial Cellulose Production

Credit: Fotolia Credit: Fotolia

Scientists are working on a method for producing faster and cheaper bacterial cellulose for use primarily in medicine as a dressing for difficult-to-heal wounds and burns.

To help, they have built a bioreactor with a rotating magnetic field generator, which is supposed to stimulate cells to grow and increase their metabolic activity.

This will allow the process to be translated from laboratory to industrial scale.

Dr. Anna Żywicka from the Department of Microbiology and Biotechnology of the West Pomeranian University of Technology in Szczecin said: “Bacterial cellulose is a biopolymer produced by non-pathogenic bacteria, naturally occurring in the environment.

“In chemical terms, it is the same as the well-known plant cellulose. Fibres that build bacterial cellulose are, however, a thousand times thinner than plant cellulose fibres. Because of its unique nanostructure, cellulose produced by bacteria has much more interesting properties than plant cellulose.”

She added that in laboratory conditions bacterial cellulose nanofibres aggregate and form a hydrated gelatinous membrane. After proper purification, this material can be used in many industries, but, she points out, “its use in medicine attracts the greatest interest."

She said: “In the context of medicine, the most important feature of this biopolymer is its biocompatibility. This means that it is non-toxic to human cells and it does not cause allergic reactions in contact with the skin. In addition, it is porous like a sponge, which ensures gas exchange between the wound and the environment.

“Colloquially speaking, the wound can +breathe+. Its hydrated gelatinous structure gives a soothing effect in contact with the skin and increases the comfort of patients when changing the dressing.”

Because of its high mechanical strength, plasticity and flexibility, bacterial cellulose can also be used in implant medicine: as cartilage, ear, nose or blood vessel implants.

PAP - Science in Poland, Elżbieta Bielecka

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